Lough Eske Castle, Dnegal, Ireland

What Must be Booked in Advance in Ireland?

“What do you HAVE to book ahead of time, and what can you “leave to chance” in pursuit of an authentic, relaxed Ireland experience?”

I received this terrific question from Erin L, and though I have touched on it in bit in past episodes, I thought it would be worth sharing the answer in one spot.

Your Ireland Vacation: What You Must Book in Advance

I highly recommend booking your accommodations in advance – especially if you are traveling between May – mid October or if you want to be sure you are in or near a particular area. Ireland currently have approximately 100,000 displaced people that are being housed in hotels, hostels, and even B&Bs, so accommodations can be limited.

Lough Eske Castle, Dnegal, Ireland

If you wish to stay in a castle I recommend booking that as soon as you know the dates you want to stay; castle hotels, especially the popular ones, fill quickly.

There are a few attractions that must be pre-booked. In Dublin: Book of Kells and Kilmainham Gaol – bookings open 28 days in advance of your visit.

If you wish to visit the passage tomb at Newgrange you need to book that – bookings open 30 days in advance of your visit.

If a landing trip on Skellig Michael is on your bucket list know that the window for tours is mid-May through October 1. Boats and tourist numbers are limited each day and trips can be cancelled due to weather, so spend a couple days in the area if possible. Book this tour as soon as you know your dates, keeping in mind that these trips can fill 6 months in advance.

More tips for visiting Ireland's Heritage Sites

In the North: Titanic Belfast, Game of Thrones Studio Tour, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge if you plan to cross, and Gobbins Cliff Walk. I also recommend booking the Giant's Causeway if you plan to include the visitors centre and you want a parking spot.

Experiences, such as tours, tastings, hands-on activities like cooking, baking, crafting, or falconry, should always be prebooked. If you are traveling in the busy ‘high season' you will want to schedule these as soon as you are sure of the date to avoid disappointment. Sometimes you can get lucky and schedule a week in advance, depending on the activity and location.

Any ‘show' type of experiences, be it a medieval banquet, Irish dance, or storytelling, must be booked in advance. These are incredibly popular and can fill months in advance.

If there is a restaurant that you simply must dine at, book that, as well.

Traveling in Ireland podcast episode 212

Do you have an Ireland travel question? Email your questions to jody@irelandfamilyvacations.com – write Podcast Question in the subject line. Or message me on Instagram or Facebook @IrelandFamilyVacations. Don't forget to let me know how I can give you a shout out for sending it in!

Jody Halsted
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